Neuroprotective activation of astrocytes by methylmercury exposure in the inferior colliculus
SciRep_9_13899.pdf 1.76 MB
Vogel, Christoph F. A.
Methylmercury (MeHg) is well known to induce auditory disorders such as dysarthria. When we performed a global analysis on the brains of mice exposed to MeHg by magnetic resonance imaging, an increase in the T1 signal in the inferior colliculus (IC), which is localized in the auditory pathway, was observed. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the pathophysiology and auditory dysfunction induced by MeHg, focusing on the IC. Measurement of the auditory brainstem response revealed increases in latency and decreases in threshold in the IC of mice exposed to MeHg for 4 weeks compared with vehicle mice. Incoordination in MeHg-exposed mice was noted after 6 weeks of exposure, indicating that IC dysfunction occurs earlier than incoordination. There was no change in the number of neurons or microglial activity, while the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein, a marker for astrocytic activity, was elevated in the IC of MeHg-exposed mice after 4 weeks of exposure, indicating that astrogliosis occurs in the IC. Suppression of astrogliosis by treatment with fluorocitrate exacerbated the latency and threshold in the IC evaluated by the auditory brainstem response. Therefore, astrocytes in the IC are considered to play a protective role in the auditory pathway. Astrocytes exposed to MeHg increased the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the IC, suggesting that astrocytic brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a potent protectant in the IC. This study showed that astrogliosis in the IC could be an adaptive response to MeHg toxicity. The overall toxicity of MeHg might be determined on the basis of the balance between MeHg-mediated injury to neurons and protective responses from astrocytes.
This work was partly supported by a KAKENHI grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, grant numbers 15KK0024 and 17H04714 to Y.I. and 17K00569 to T.Y. This work was also financially supported in part by Tokushima Bunri University. This manuscript has been reviewed by a professional language editing service (American Journal Experts).
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